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Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Committee and remaining Stages

Vote from 20/12/2012

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The primary purpose of the Bill is to make available the funding for the commission over the coming three years. The Bill proposes to make available to the commission a sum not exceeding €324 million to carry out its functions for the three year period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015.

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Background information

The primary purpose of the Bill is to make available the funding for the commission over the coming three years. The Bill proposes to make available to the commission a sum not exceeding €324 million to carry out its functions for the three year period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015. The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission was first established as of 1 January 2004. The commission is the independent body which, in effect, is the governing board of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The primary functions of the commission are to provide for the running of the Houses of the Oireachtas, to act as governing body of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, to consider and determine policy in relation to the service and to oversee tie implementation of that policy by the Secretary General. The Commission is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and consists of 11 members, including the Secretary General. The commission is financed from the Central Fund for a three year period and has control over current expenditure and, to a considerable degree, over its staffing. The commission has no role in regulating the business of the Houses. The commission is accountable to the Parliament and presents annual reports of its work together with estimates and accounts of its expenditure. The Houses of the Oireachtas Service is the public service body that administers the Houses of the Oireachtas on behalf of the commission as the governing authority. The functions of the service are set out in the Act of 2009. They are to provide advice and support services to the commission, the Houses and their committees and members of the Houses. Since 2004, the current expenditure of the Houses of the Oireachtas has been financed from the Central Fund rather than, as has been the case up to then, being included in the Estimates Voted annually by the Dáil. This change was effected by the Houses of the Oireachtas Com- mission Act 2003. Under the terms of that Act a three year budget, covering the period 2004 to 2006, was provided for the commission. Further Acts were enacted in 2006, covering the 2007 to 2009 period, and 2009, for the 2010 to 2012 period. A new Act is now required, as the financing provided under the 2009 Act expires as of 31 December next.

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